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I’m going back to Summernats … how about you?

By Jane Speechley - 4 January 2017 8

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I haven’t been to Summernats for a very long time.

I attended the annual celebration of fuel, fumes and flaming rubber when I was younger and wilder – because Summernats then was a place for the young and wild. And I have to say, what I saw fulfilled every cliché of the darker side of Australia’s most notorious motoring event.

From alcohol-fuelled violence to disturbing mob behaviour towards women, and just plain old stupidity – sadly, my observations were far from unique.

Summernats is easily the most controversial inclusion in Canberra’s annual calendar of events. Many locals – especially residents of the inner north – say it’s loud, dirty, disruptive and dangerous. Riot ACT contributors have echoed their concerns in the past.

No doubt organisers would agree that past coverage of the more salacious elements of the event have overshadowed its real purpose, character and strengths.

What is tough to argue, is how much Summernats contributes to our town in terms of tourism, profile and economic benefit. Attendance estimates sit at over 100,000 people, with an anticipated economic benefit around the $20M mark.

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And the current organising team behind Summernats is working very hard to improve its culture and image. Chic Henry and his team deserve all due credit for establishing and growing the celebration from its grassroots. The natural evolution now is to continue to evolve it into a more professional and controlled event.

(that said, I have to question the wisdom of tweets like this – scoring points off the locals in the town you’ve called home for 30 years doesn’t seem like a winning promotional strategy … )

Anyway, whether you love it or just tolerate it, as Summernats celebrates its 30th year, it’s here to stay. And as a motoring writer based in Canberra, I can’t really afford to miss it.

So for the first time in many years, I’ll be heading along to Summernats this weekend.

Media access is restricted to the daylight hours, which is probably a good thing. Undoubtedly – like anywhere else – any seediness emerges after dark, so it will be interesting to attend during the day, when I expect the landscape to be dominated by families and true enthusiasts.

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Some areas are strictly off limits to reporters as well – but writing about burn outs isn’t really my bag anyway.

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I do expect to meet a lot of people with extraordinary and unique cars, who are really passionate about what they do and keen to share their stories. This is the heart of the Summer Nationals, and the part that I’m really excited about.

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The Riot ACT will be covering the opening City Cruise on Thursday 5 January from about midday. This street element is conducted with the full support and cooperation of the ACT Government, and will see more than 300 hot rods, street machines and highly modified vehicles cruise Northbourne Avenue from EPIC down to the city and back. If you want to see if for yourself, bring your lunch and get there early to grab a good spot.

Other than that, I’m looking forward to checking out the driver skills events, the Shannons Show ‘N’ Shine, airbrush art exhibitions and, of course, the competition judging.

To view the full program online, visit www.summernats.com.au (where you can still buy tickets) and catch the latest news on Facebook or on Twitter.

I’ll be there. Must remember to wear my cardigan.

Will I see you at Summernats this weekend? Have you been in the past few years, and if so, have you noticed a change?

What’s Your opinion?


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8 Responses to
I’m going back to Summernats … how about you?
Jane Speechley 7:51 pm 06 Jan 17

John Moulis said :

Um Jane, Chic Henry hasn’t been involved with Summernats for almost ten years.

Hi John – yep, I’m aware of that! – as I’ve said in the article, I think it’s important to acknowledge his role in establishing the event, while talking about its evolution …

Cheers,

Jane.

John Moulis 4:46 pm 06 Jan 17

Um Jane, Chic Henry hasn’t been involved with Summernats for almost ten years.

Masquara 12:30 pm 05 Jan 17

Jane Speechley said :

Masquara said :

Why don’t they allow the media in after dark? Why do you appear to accept this?

I’m not sure of the reasoning, Masquara – you’d have to ask Team Summernats that – but I’d guess it would be part of their efforts to manage the image of the event. I don’t think it means a lot, given in this day and age, anyone with a mobile phone is a ‘journalist’.

I’m not planning on filming at night time anyway, but if I was, I’d just pay my way and join the hundreds, possibly thousands, of punters walking around filming whatever they like on their phones!

Or it could have to do with things not having changed. Two female friends of mine visited Summernats at night a few years ago – there was illegal porn being shown from a “trolley in, able to be quickly trolleyed out” platform. I suspect that what they have to hide is sexual violence culture, and they’re happy to drop all their “family values” for a rather nasty audience segment.

Jane Speechley 9:34 am 05 Jan 17

Masquara said :

Why don’t they allow the media in after dark? Why do you appear to accept this?

I’m not sure of the reasoning, Masquara – you’d have to ask Team Summernats that – but I’d guess it would be part of their efforts to manage the image of the event. I don’t think it means a lot, given in this day and age, anyone with a mobile phone is a ‘journalist’.

I’m not planning on filming at night time anyway, but if I was, I’d just pay my way and join the hundreds, possibly thousands, of punters walking around filming whatever they like on their phones!

rommeldog56 8:21 am 05 Jan 17

Elias Hallaj (aka CBRFoodie) said :

That said I’m looking forward to end my Summernats virginity this year. I’m particularly (& unsurprisingly) interested to see what tasty morsels they have to offer. Considering the target demographic I’m hoping there will be some amazing burgers and BBQ to tempt me. Has anyone else had any good or bad experiences with Summernats food?

Having missed very few Summernats, but havent made it for past 2 years, the food was average – at best. And expensive as would be expected at such events. If they will let u take in your own food/drink, that probably a better option. But great event anyway.

Masquara 10:17 pm 04 Jan 17

Why don’t they allow the media in after dark? Why do you appear to accept this?

dungfungus 4:53 pm 04 Jan 17

Elias Hallaj (aka CBRFoodie) said :

The cardigan tweet made me think about wearing a cardigan when I visit! (And seeking out the guy who runs their social media to ask him what he was thinking ?). That said I’m looking forward to end my Summernats virginity this year. I’m particularly (& unsurprisingly) interested to see what tasty morsels they have to offer. Considering the target demographic I’m hoping there will be some amazing burgers and BBQ to tempt me. Has anyone else had any good or bad experiences with Summernats food?

Yeah, everything tastes like burnt rubber.

Elias Hallaj (aka CB 12:14 pm 04 Jan 17

The cardigan tweet made me think about wearing a cardigan when I visit! (And seeking out the guy who runs their social media to ask him what he was thinking ?). That said I’m looking forward to end my Summernats virginity this year. I’m particularly (& unsurprisingly) interested to see what tasty morsels they have to offer. Considering the target demographic I’m hoping there will be some amazing burgers and BBQ to tempt me. Has anyone else had any good or bad experiences with Summernats food?

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